Heartbreak

How The Most Resilient People Cope When An Important Relationship Falls Apart

Photo: Volodymyr TVERDOKHLIB / Shutterstock.com —
Woman looking through glass window

Life has many turns. People we're close with move on for a variety of reasons, many of which are beyond our control.

No matter why the relationship ended, you may be surprised at the reactions of people you care about because you thought you could count on them through thick or thin.

The grief that can be caused by those close to you when they do not support you — or when they cut you out of their lives altogether — is the pain and emotional distress associated with estrangement. It's a difficult challenge that often requires developing some serious coping skills to help you move on.

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Why we become estranged from friends & loved ones

Estrangement can be caused by an infinite number of reasons but whether it is by friends, family, co-workers, communities, media, or other influential groups it forces you to make changes that are uncomfortable.  The loss of status in the minds of those you have held in high esteem creates an unsure environment for you. 

This new “world” that you find yourself in is fraught with challenges.

The isolation caused by estrangement places you in a precarious position where you find yourself looking for anyone to believe your side of a story or to give you another chance. The judgment passed on you by others can be harsh so being careful is important during this time. 

You must choose actions that cannot be misconstrued if you are falsely accused, or you must take responsibility, be accountable, and demonstrate remorse for inappropriate behavior.

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Coping with estrangement

It is natural to experience anger if you are estranged from people you love or have had a close relationship with. You may feel “boxed in” because you are excluded from them. Anger is part of your coping, but it must be under control. A therapist may help you understand and process your anger.

Sometimes pushback is the only recourse — but this must be done with caution. A third-party advocate and/or other professional may be necessary to help you regain your reputation. Inappropriate actions never help your cause, so conflict should be resolved to avoid the potential for future problems.

No control of others

When an issue causes you to be isolated and scrutinized you have no control over the actions of others. You may try to make your case or bargain with them to regain your relationship. It is only natural to want people to understand your position.

They have their own methods of logic and if they conclude that you are not to be believed then it is a decision uniquely theirs. You may be shocked and angry that someone you felt was close to you suddenly has determined that you were not worthy of their love and trust, but it happens.

Estrangement from a loved one can be worse than death in some ways because there is finality in death and no physical hope of reconciliation. When the person that you have an issue with is alive but has shut you out of their life it can result in a lifetime without closure. You may have the need, desire, and hope that you can resolve a situation but if the other party is unwilling then you must learn to cope with that reality.

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Control of yourself

During this time, you must learn to take care of yourself and realize that the only person that you have control over is you! Estrangement can be depressing due to the grief you are feeling over the situation. You must make the decision, have the courage to start over, and lift yourself back up.

This fact is the first step that you must take to create a new life. The new actuality that you are living within may not be as attractive as your former life, but it is filled with new possibilities that you will discover. When you accept that you are in a new phase of your life it can be empowering.

The virtue of detachment and discerning a practical approach to your situation will be helpful in your new world.

Detachment may bring you some peace of mind.

Using the resources you have or creating new ones becomes a priority. Small personal successes build upon one another and create a foundation that gives you the freedom to move passed estrangement.

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Your decision to move on, use or create resources, allows you to contemplate other moves that assist you in building a new life. Adapting to this situation and isolating the problem so it does not control you is a necessity. Regaining a sense of power gives you confidence and belief in yourself.

A new reality requires faith in yourself, resilience, perseverance, and reasonable action. You are being watched by others and your future depends upon your behavior and your determination to overcome adversity. You may never regain the admiration of certain people, but you may learn you may no longer want it!

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Seeking and finding support

Sometimes the best solution to estrangement is to create a new support system.  It is the reason many people move from a neighborhood, city, state, or country! When there does not appear to be any hope of solving a problem the best reaction can be to leave and take care of yourself.

New friends and a “clean slate” can be refreshing. Leaving the past behind you can be a healthy opportunity to not make the same mistakes or have a similar situation develop. Learning from your past can be the greatest teacher of all.

Sometimes leaving can make matters worse.

Some situations are worth trying to solve, especially when innocent people are involved. Facing difficult situations and handling them with fortitude and grace is a sign of character and estrangement is a test of your inner core. It is only when there is intransigence and a lack of understanding on the part of others, or you that drastic actions should be considered.

Virtue plays an essential role in resolving problems and grief. Weighing the pros and cons and having a strategy for resolution demonstrates the depth of your personality. The support of those who have not abandoned you, paid advocates, and new friends are good sources for fresh or good ideas if you become estranged from others in your life.

Support helps you find equilibrium during troubled times but if it is not available to you then your personal skills need to be used. Prayer, meditation, and pro-active behavior are suitable mechanisms that can bolster troubled times. The virtues of charity, being magnanimous, and forgiveness help as well.

Estrangement is a tough form of grief

They say that there are only two things in life that are certain, and they are death and taxes, but you can add that problems will occur in your life. Whether you are at fault or not you will have to learn to deal with issues that are beyond your control. These issues will require coping skills that over time will help you create a new balance in life.

You do not have control over the thoughts, actions, and opinions of others that you thought were allies but proved they were not. It may be that you learn who your real friends are and appreciate them for their faith in you. Detachment from former supporters and taking a practical approach to your situation are necessary, but it is not necessarily easy.

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The only control that you can claim is for yourself.

You must be deliberate and act with considered thought. Building upon remaining resources, creating new ones, and developing a new reality is an essential part of coping with the difficulties of estrangement. It is a test of your character to handle adversity and about learning about how much of it you can take.

Evaluating when to fight is a difficult issue but there may not be another mature choice in the matter. Weathering a storm may be necessary especially when there are other innocent people involved. You will need many virtues including faith, patience, determination, resilience, charity, and forgiveness when appropriate.

Time is your best ally when you face the grief from estrangement because your ability to demonstrate that you can handle issues gracefully means you are a strong person worthy of respect from others.

You may never reconcile with people who abandoned you in your time of need, but your new life and the freedom you achieve will be worth it. Estrangement causes heartbreak, but once you have accepted your new life you can learn to be happy again!

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John Cappello, M. B. A., is a psychic medium and author of Open the Mind Heal the Heart, A Metaphysical Discussion About Grief. 

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